Toddler Constipation Remedies

Susie McGee
Mom comforting toddler girl

Toddler constipation remedies can ease your toddler's discomfort when he or she is unable to have a bowel movement.

Common Causes of Toddler Constipation

Toddler constipation is a common malady that many children experience during their toddler years. When this occurs, many parents wonder if prolonged constipation is a reason to panic. In most cases, the answer is no. However, before you decide whether you need to cart your toddler off to the doctor for more drastic measures, consider what might have caused your child's constipation. If you know the reason or if this incidence of constipation doesn't appear to be too serious, then you may want to try one or two of the many commonly used toddler constipation remedies. What are the typical constipation causes in toddlers?

  • Refusal to use the potty - If your toddler is in the midst of potty training, he may develop constipation simply because he refuses to use the potty. For some, this refusal is due to extreme stubbornness. For others, it might actually be a fear of the act of "pooping in the potty." Either way, a refusal to use the potty is a common factor in constipation among toddlers.
  • Concern with lack of privacy - If your toddler spends her days at a daycare facility, she may be uncomfortable using the bathroom away from home. In this case, she may attempt to control her bowel movements to such an extent that she can't go once she arrives home.
  • Changes in diet - Whether your toddler refuses to eat foods that comprise a balanced diet or he hasn't been eating a balanced diet due to an illness, a change in his diet may cause him to experience constipation for a period of time.
  • Medications - Constipation may be a direct result of certain medications.

Serious Causes of Toddler Constipation

In addition to the above causes of constipation, some serious issues may be behind your toddler's problem.

  • Hypothyroidism - Newborns are typically tested for this condition in which the lower performance of the thyroid gland causes a decreased activity of the intestinal muscles. However, hypothyroidism may be diagnosed in toddlers as well and can be a medical condition that causes constipation.
  • Hirschsprung's Disease - Considered a rare, congenital disease typically present since birth, Hirschsprung's Disease affects the colon and typically causes constipation.

In addition to the above problems, health and behavioral conditions such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, attention deficit disorder, and even lead poisoning can also cause constipation.

Toddler Constipation Remedies and Treatments

If your toddler experiences a mild case of constipation, the following remedies and treatments may be all you need to help your child find relief from her discomfort.

  • Fluids - The first thing you should do is consider the amount of fluids your child is drinking on a daily basis. A child who isn't drinking enough fluids can easily experience constipation simply because her stools will become harder and she may refuse to use the bathroom because it is difficult for her to do so. If you aren't sure whether or not she is getting enough fluids, pay attention to how often she urinates. She should do so at least every three hours while she is awake throughout the day. If not, encourage her to drink more to prevent dehydration.
  • Fiber - Your child needs to eat fiber as part of a well-balanced diet each day. In fact, the USDA recommends that children ages two to eight years of age eat a minimum of 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of vegetables and 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of fruit daily. Some fruits and vegetables are higher in fiber than others are. For example, legumes, prunes, raisins, whole wheat and whole grain cereals and breads, bananas, apples, and peanut butter are all excellent sources of fiber.
  • Mineral oil - It's important to note that you should consult your pediatrician before giving your child mineral oil, but many people feel that one or two teaspoons of mineral oil given once or twice a day is one of the most common and acceptable constipation remedies.
  • Milk intake - Consider limiting the amount of cow's milk your child drinks when she becomes constipated.
  • Establish a regular schedule - Help your child establish a schedule of sitting on the toilet after meals, although it's important that you don't pressure her to have a bowel movement during this time.

Do not give your child over-the-counter laxatives, which can cause serious electrolyte imbalances.

When to Call the Doctor

Terri Forehand RN

When should you call the doctor with concerns about your child's constipation? In most cases, if the following occurs, you should contact your toddler's pediatrician immediately.

  • Stomach distention - While many toddlers have "bellies", a distended stomach looks swollen and can be an indication of a serious issue.
  • Blood - If you see blood in your child's stool, contact your doctor.
  • Lack of bowel movement - Typically, a doctor will want to see your child if the toddler hasn't had a bowel movement after three days of trying a new diet.
  • Extreme pain - If your toddler cries and appears to be in pain when she tries to have a bowel movement, call your doctor.
  • Unexplained vomiting - Children with severe constipation or an early bowel obstruction, particularly infants, will vomit soon after every feeding. Unexplained vomiting without fever or other indications of an illness combined with constipation are a reason to alert your doctor.
  • Refusal to eat - A lack of appetite and a refusal to eat and drink related constipation is another indication of a possible serious problem.

As always, you should contact your pediatrician with any concerns you have regarding your child's health.

Toddler Constipation Remedies